When you’re as well known as Hanif Kureishi (novelist, screenwriter and playwright) and you express your scorn for ‘creative writing courses’ calling them the ‘new mental hospitals’, it makes humble beginners, like me, in the field of running workshops sit up and take notice and wonder if he’s got a blooming point.
The piece I read about a year ago was in the Guardian (Tuesday May 27 2008) and in it Kureishi gives his opinion of creative writing courses in a way that seems to be a mixture of fun and low blows. Aimed at all of us struggling with putting these courses on and believing in the power of a bit of writing.
I suppose what strikes me as different about my particular baby ‘mindful writing’ is that my workshops are not about becoming a writer per se, but about words helping us feel more authentic. Oh Lord! Kureishi would have a field day with that one.
Kureishi says he was impelled to teach writing after experiencing his kids’ music and sports lessons. He said: “I felt if I knew something I should pass it on.”
It’s funny to think of the brain behind the brilliant ‘Buddha of Suburbia’ saying people on creative writing courses are putting themselves in a new kind of mental hospital. But you know what the wise ones say, ‘if you meet the Buddha on the road kill him’; I wonder if this also applies to a Buddha of suburbia?
My Mindful Writing has its roots in Buddhism and Kureishi’s dreaded creative writing; if I ever met Hanif Kureishi on or off the road, I’d duck.
(Originally published 30.06.2009.)